Dwight Howard’s diva tendencies are not a good sign

The Orlando Magic have lost for straight and Dwight Howard looks like he already has checked out. (AP photo)

Orlando has lost four straight and Dwight Howard looks like he has checked out, which can't please coach Stan Van Gundy. (AP photo)

Dwight Howard is good. Really good. He is one of the five best players in the world. He is the best center in the world. He is so good that he is in that special I-only-need-one-damn-name-because-THAT’S-how-good-I-am category. (Others: LeBron, Kobe, Dwyane.)

But here’s another thing about Dwight Howard, superstar, Olympian, Atlanta native, solid citizen, blahblahblah: He has jumped the rails. He can – and almost certainly will – opt out of his contract with the Orlando Magic following this season, assuming the team doesn’t trade him before that happens.

The Magic should have dealt Howard before the season. They have not handled this situation well, and now the Magic appear in the midst of an early-season crumble, having lost four straight and six of eight. But there’s one person who looks worse than anybody in the Orlando front office right now, and that’s Howard himself.

On Friday, he criticized his teammates after a 93-67 loss to the New Orleans Hornets, then 3-15. Quoting: “I look at guys and they don’t look like they want to play. “I told them at halftime, ‘If you don’t want to play, just stay in the locker room, because it don’t make sense for a team who we should beat to just demolish us.’”

He was right, of course. Nobody figured New Orleans would body slam Orlando, least of all anybody in New Orleans. The problem is that when it has become clear that a player has one foot out the door himself, he is no position to preach anything about resolve and team unity.

Consider: That same Howard who hammered his teammates for not having any team pride then turned around and told the Chicago Tribune he would be open to playing for the Bulls. “If I could play with Derrick [Rose] right now and God wanted that to happen, it will happen,” he said. “I love him. That’s my brother.”

Punctuation: Those comments to a Tribune reporter came the same night in New Orleans when Howard ripped his teammates (the Tribune didn’t report them until Monday morning). Seriously?

In the two games since, Howard has shot 4-for-15 and 5-for-13 from the free-throw line. Seems to me somebody needs to call him out.

Howard already has listed the Los Angeles Lakers, New Jersey, Dallas and, more recently, the Clippers as desired destinations. He has leverage because, while the Magic can trade him, no team is going to be willing to give up significant assets in a deal without assurances that Howard will sign a contract extension (or at the very least opt in for one more season on his contract).

The problem is the way Howard has handled this. He has openly asked for a trade. He has openly spoken of potential destinations. He has done things that even LeBron James didn’t do in his final season in Cleveland. For as much as James was hammered, he said very little about his free-agency plans (although there was the curious timing of the new Nike LeBron VII Low in December 2009, which had the “I Love New York” logo on the bottom).

Like Howard, James was asked about free agency in every city, but he generally declined comment.

Does this mean there will be less of a market for Howard? No. His talents compensate for all diva-tendencies in the minds of every NBA owner and general manager. That includes the Hawks.

But Howard’s act has not gone unnoticed around the league, and it’s fair to suggest that some are at least starting to wonder where his head is at.

James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh drew criticism for orchestrating their free-agency Mapquest ending in Miami, but they handled the season better than Howard has. If you doubt that, just look at what has happened to the Magic.

By Jeff Schultz


110 comments Add your comment

Najeh Davenpoop

January 31st, 2012
2:44 pm

We have a 15-6 team in our city tied for the 4th best record in the league. Why are you writing about Dwight Howard?

Benjamin

January 31st, 2012
2:47 pm

Every accolade given to him is deserved, but I can’t help but think he isn’t the straight-laced role model so many billed him to be almost from Day One. One thing you didn’t point out and, to be fair, may not know: the man has more technical fouls than anyone in basketball the past three seasons.

He’s more Rasheed Wallace than David Robinson…

Atlanta Spirit Sucks

January 31st, 2012
3:01 pm

If the Hawks had real owners, not a bunch of clowns who look at a sports franchise as an “expensive hobby,” Atlanta would be on Howard’s short list of preferred destinations.

ASHEVILLE DAWG

January 31st, 2012
3:06 pm

At least he doesn’t want to come “home”.

falCANS

January 31st, 2012
3:14 pm

what really grinds,me is that we have the assets to get Howard!! The magic would LOVE a AlHorford M.Williams trade for Dwight. And just imagine Howard and Smith at the 5 & 4!!!! best defensive frony court in the league (if not the best overall)

Trojan

January 31st, 2012
3:15 pm

He is the best but his act is boring. He wants what he wants and no matter what he says, he could not care less about Orlando.

PMC

January 31st, 2012
3:20 pm

It’s his life, I could care less where he plays or wants to play, I do enjoy watching him play and he used to be a lot of fun.

He has come off as petty and lame in this whole process.

slydog

January 31st, 2012
3:28 pm

Ok Shultzie, you got bored and had to meet a quota. You clearly are piggy backing off of a Fox Sports article written yesterday…lol. Of course he’s acting like a diva. He’s on a team full of losers. In a room full of know-nothing’s, the Phd is king..lol.

Jack

January 31st, 2012
3:31 pm

Dwight Howard isn’t in a Hawk uniform….its not going to happen no matter what kind of articles are written that contain his hame

Jimmy Crack

January 31st, 2012
3:34 pm

Lebron…Kobe…Dwayne…Dwight…JOE!

Nah.

mecq

January 31st, 2012
3:39 pm

Dignified is as dignified does. He was raised better.! I hope he ends up with the Clippers. A level playing field with a challenge in house. Let him see how the Real Superman (Blake Griffin) operates. He may learn something and grow up..! He may even play to his full potential.

Mike

January 31st, 2012
3:41 pm

I have to agreed with Jeff here. Magic leadership should have traded him before the season started but now they have to go through this mess and this is way worst than Melo or Lequeen and most teams will not give up a slew of talent just to lose him in the offseason (Danny Manning). For the Hawks, we did a have a good package and we still do, but I dont think he will extend or signed with us, so it is a lose cause.

I actually feel bad for the Magic Owner who is like 89 and want to have a championship before he moves on.

honest_abe

January 31st, 2012
3:45 pm

this article sums up today’s pampered, selfish nba player who could care less about anything other than himself.

in the end dwight will end up a laker and win multiple rings. if you can’t beam em, join em!

hawks d

January 31st, 2012
3:48 pm

im sorry people, regardless how good he is he is just plain pathetic and embarrassing…his demeanor over the past months make me wish he will never become a hawk… im a true hawks fan and i believe they are gonna make great strides over the next few seasons even with this “atlanta native”…

JayD

January 31st, 2012
4:00 pm

Uuuuuuhhh………Have you seeb Blake’s half court game?? Yuk

feudfinder

January 31st, 2012
4:05 pm

What do Dwight and Lebron have in common ? They are both running away from home.

JayD

January 31st, 2012
4:05 pm

My only beef is that Orlando (not a fan) has done everything that he has asked. If he just wants to leave….which he does – He should just say as much. When guys who have been taken care of in every way by an organization start leaving – just because they can…. The league suffers. Draft great players….. prepare them to play… for the Lakers, Heat, Knicks etc. Sucks! btw… Hawks are 15-6…Let’s go Hawks!

rollo lawson

January 31st, 2012
4:07 pm

What Najeh said!! Instead of writing about a player who plays 500 hundred miles away, how about you (local media) writing about possible big men this front office should pursue in order for us to keep pace with Chicago and Miami. All this other crap is irrelevant!! The fans have been on board with this team. Now its time for the AJC to follow suit and start acting like a big-time newspaper.

feudfinder

January 31st, 2012
4:09 pm

Dwight wants to play for the Clippers because he doesn’t want Blake G to dunk on him. That’s the new kid on the block for NBA

Child Please

January 31st, 2012
4:13 pm

I have to say I completely agree with you on this Schultz. Dwight Howard also announced on the day his team played the Celtics that he would be in favor of playing for that team. This was the beginning of the team’s current slide as the Celtics came back from 27 down to win that game. Has he ever thought that maybe it’s a little hard to play on a team in which the star player is constantly reminding his teammates that he doesn’t want to play with them? And sorry I don’t think he is being roasted enough by the media on this; no doubt if this were LeBron we would never hear the end of it.

But I think these prima donna NBA players need to stop and think because these “super combo” teams may not be all their cracked up to be. The Knickerbockers are a mess, the Clippers cannot win on the road, and the Heat still have their issues. The Magic have a decent team and they only need an additional player or two to become real contenders. But this is the microwave generation and they want instant success. And this is why so many of us who cut our teeth watching the NBA during Bird, Magic, Michael, Dominique, Mailman, etc., simply cannot enjoy the game as much.

BiggDawgK

January 31st, 2012
4:13 pm

Howard is in the one name elite circle? If you said Dwight the first person that would come to mind is Dwight Schrute of the world famous Schrute Beet Farms.

Big Crimson 75

January 31st, 2012
4:16 pm

Excellent point poop — why can’t we support this Team that’s doing very well right now!! Including & Especially this newspaper, that seems to care less about the Hawks!
However, with that being said, if the Hawks can get Howard for Horford, Marvin & a couple of 1st rounders, then we must do it. Howard is a true NBA superstar. If he comes here then everyone is put to the test!! We will find out what this whole organization is made of !! Fans included.
With Howard, no more excuses for an empty arena.
With Howard, Joe becomes better.
With Howard, Smooth becomes better.
Do it !!! Even if it’s for half a season, do it !!
You don’t have Championship opportunities year after year.
We can win the NBA title with this crew :
Teague, Joe, Smooth, Howard, Hinrich, Greene, T-Mac, Vlad Rad & Zsa Zsa !!!!!!

C dog

January 31st, 2012
4:23 pm

The Hawks are the best team in Atlanta and have been the best the last 3-4 years yet nobody talks about them. Im tired of hearing the Atlanta radio stations talking about how the falcons need to get this and that, improve this and that. Or talk about college recruiting. And yes Braves, you may have forgot about the collapse last year but I haven’t. More Hawks talk plllllease….they are ballin

Heisenberg

January 31st, 2012
4:25 pm

Howard coming to Hawks would be subtraction by addition. For all his talant and numbers, I do not see him as someone that makes other players around him better.

Big Crimson 75

January 31st, 2012
4:28 pm

100% correct C !! I’ve been saying this all YEAR !! I know they hate the Spirit, but no need to make it personal. Support the Hawks Atlanta. They deserve it!

Najeh Davenpoop

January 31st, 2012
4:39 pm

“The Hawks are the best team in Atlanta and have been the best the last 3-4 years ”

Damn right.

I know Schultz has beef with the owners, and quite frankly so do I and most other Hawks fans, but that doesn’t mean the AJC should turn a blind eye to a team that has so far shown the potential to be one of the best in franchise history. The much-maligned Joe Johnson and Josh Smith are getting a hell of a lot more accomplished than the more highly-regarded marquee players on the Falcons and Braves like Matt Ryan and Jason Heyward who get a lot more attention from the AJC.

Vick Supporter

January 31st, 2012
4:40 pm

Najeh Davenpoop

January 31st, 2012
2:44 pm
We have a 15-6 team in our city tied for the 4th best record in the league. Why are you writing about Dwight Howard?
__________________________

THANK YOU. F Dwight Howard

bob

January 31st, 2012
4:43 pm

This is the prob with pro sports, its no longer about the sport, the game, its all about the money. Its a shame and sign of the times we live in.

Vick Supporter

January 31st, 2012
4:48 pm

I still can’t believe that Marvin Williams is actually producing this year. I’ve trashed him for years on here and I’m glad to see him finally coming through.

kbb

January 31st, 2012
4:53 pm

I would love to have Dwight here. We would finally have a face for the franchise. Our 120 million dollar man might as well be invisible. Its almost like it pains him to be the center of attention. I would trade Joe and whoever else the Magic want for Dwight. Bring him home SUND!!

Arnold Ziffel

January 31st, 2012
4:54 pm

Nobody reads or cares about the Hawks which is why you get articles on Dwight. Until those liars/idiots/fools who claim to own the team vacate the premises, I and many others will not go to, watch, or read about any Hawks game. NBA covenants prevent the team from leaving ATL so no worries there. I’d like to see the Spirit get their hindsides handed to them and when it happens, they’ll deserve exactly what they get.

kevkat

January 31st, 2012
4:55 pm

Ah, lay off J.S. Trust me, over the next 6 games there will be plenty to talk about concerning the Hawks…one way or the other..

Larry

January 31st, 2012
5:10 pm

It’s the NBA…mindless, double-digit IQ, tattooed, tall goons whose only purpose in life is mating with as many females possible and jumping up a foot or so to put a round ball in a slightly larger round hole.

Geez…does this really make a difference in your world?

MV7

January 31st, 2012
5:12 pm

BRING BACK MV7!!

DC73

January 31st, 2012
5:16 pm

Well, at least ajc is in good company:-)

BS Bill Simmons has listed ONE Hawk in the 42 top players (only as ‘has to be mentioned’ http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7519970/time-change) and JT is not even mentioned as one of a noticeable PG in the league (see point 9. http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7523441/20-questions-part-1). JT is 4th in steals and STL/TO…..

James Adams

January 31st, 2012
5:18 pm

The same people that bad mouth the Hawks and/or talk about the being irrelevant, are the same d-bags that either; a) love the ULTRA-irrelevant NHL and cry over their pathetic Thrashers being dead or b) those typical ‘when do pitchers and catchers report’ rednecks that think the Braves actually have a shot to do something, and ‘will never watch the Hawks or the NBA’ for reasons they don’t have the courage to type out, even though we all know the truth.

Shug

January 31st, 2012
5:19 pm

Larry, you’re all right.

MV7

January 31st, 2012
5:24 pm

We miss u Mike! ATL is your home!

MV7

January 31st, 2012
5:26 pm

With all the racism that goes on these boards we could all at least agree when MV7 was our leader we were united as one!

JayD

January 31st, 2012
5:27 pm

White Men…. I mean Larry can’t jump!

MV7

January 31st, 2012
5:30 pm

Larry you left one thing out in your description: Counting their stacks of Benjamins Baby!! It’s all about that paper! Get some yo

JayD

January 31st, 2012
5:34 pm

People like Larry would rather watch and cheer for some mindless, double-digit IQ, steriod taking, shorter white guys hit a baseball (I’m sure they have similiar mating patterns). Most of them will never even see the inside of a college!

MV7

January 31st, 2012
5:35 pm

Since the AJC is writing about other teams I would personally love an article about MV7 contributions to the community during his offseason!

KC

January 31st, 2012
5:41 pm

This just in: Dwight Howard wouldn’t mind playing for the Atlanta Braves, Seattle Seahawks, or Boston Bruins… He needs to quit crying and act like a man!

Felix

January 31st, 2012
5:46 pm

Dwight Howard is another example of why so many fans are turned off by pro sports. There are just too many that are overpaid, spoiled prima donnas; and then when they open their mouths, it gets even worse because we see how really stupid so many of them are.

Shooter

January 31st, 2012
5:49 pm

This is the NBA. They are all Divas !

flagboy?

January 31st, 2012
6:19 pm

Wait, I thought NBA was locked out and there would be no season this year. . . they’re playing this year? Really? . . . . wow. . who knew?

. . or cared?

"Hawks are best team in Atlanta"

January 31st, 2012
6:25 pm

How many titles have they won in this town again?

LOL @ ASG

January 31st, 2012
6:29 pm

Hey, James. I was a Thrashers and Hawks fan until the ASG liars sold one of my hometown teams. I became more of a Hawks fan because I was already in the arena half of the year for hockey. That’s right: hockey made me a better b-ball fan. If the roles were reversed, would you support an ownership group that sold the Hawks away? Think before you talk.

david

January 31st, 2012
6:33 pm

I thought the NBA was on strike